At this point, there’s little doubt that remote work environments are here to stay. In one recent Gartner survey of CFOs, 74% of respondents said they plan to shift at least some of their employees into permanently remote positions. Throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, remote workers were able to continue to be productive while enjoying increased flexibility. The switch to remote has also allowed organizations to cut down on the costs of having large physical office spaces, and to hire qualified candidates from around the world.
While work from-home capabilities may have their perks for your organization and its employees, the setup poses unique challenges for the IT professionals charged with keeping your data safe. Because of the rapid spread of the pandemic, remote cybersecurity protocols were often set up hastily, without the intention of long-term viability. In addition, with workers spread out and more likely to be using unsecured networks and personal devices, IT teams have far less autonomy than they used to.
The combination has made the past year an especially rife time for hackers. According to IBM Security, the impact of a single data breach rose sharply in 2020, all the way up to an average of $3.86 million. Many of the vulnerabilities that criminals are exploiting can be found in the applications on your employee’s devices. Because of the decentralized nature of remote work IT teams must take additional steps to ensure that these applications are properly patched and safe. In addition, employees and IT need the tools to detect and respond to a threat, no matter whether the endpoint is on a local network or not.
Overall, the best way to protect your organization is with a layered cybersecurity approach that recognizes the unique challenges of the remote setup and utilizes application management across the board.
Educate your staff
Far too the opening that hackers need doesn’t originate from a weak link in your cybersecurity software, but rather employee error. Exploits like phishing attacks and many forms of ransomware are triggered by employees clicking the wrong link or entering key information into what they believe to be a trustworthy source. In fact, according to the 2020 IBM Cyber Security Intelligence Index Report, human error played a role in 95% of that year’s data breaches.
What this means is that investing in the right cybersecurity solutions, while absolutely essential, is only one piece of the puzzle. Be sure to educate your staff about the dangers of suspicious messages on their applications from outside of the known network. Employees should also be taught the appropriate next steps to take if they suspect a threat, including contacting IT.
It’s a story we’ve all seen time and time again. An organization discovers that an exploit has occurred because of a vulnerability in one of their applications. Then, to make matters worse, it becomes clear that a patch for the vulnerability was already available at the time of the breach. According to one study by the Ponemon Institute, almost half of respondents who had experienced a breach said it was from a vulnerability that could have been patched. All told, almost three quarters of respondents who had experienced a breach said they were aware ahead of time that they were vulnerable.
It’s easy enough to say that regularly updating is a priority is important to your organization. Putting it in practice — and handling the potential downtown that accompanies it — is another situation entirely. This has become especially true as employees are required to use more and more applications for their jobs. In addition to moving processes to a smaller number of solutions, one of the easiest ways to make a difference is to utilize software that can be deployed remotely and updates automatically.
Invest in application management
Ultimately, the key way to prevent exploits in applications is to wrestle control of endpoint cybersecurity away from workers and back to IT professionals. Centralized application management makes this possible.
The best application management solutions, like Faronics Deploy, makes it easy to install and uninstall applications on remote endpoints, based on organizational needs. In addition, Deploy will update the apps from its club-based library automatically and gives you the ability to create custom app management plans for all of your other apps.